Current models calculating food waste in the tourism industry underestimate the scope of the problem because they fail to take into account new and diverse tourism options, such as AirBNB or traveling in recreational vehicles.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Southern California warn that there are major gaps in how food waste in tourism is understood and calculated.
Up until now, models have focused on estimating and calculating food waste from hotels, restaurants and events. However, this approach ignores the existence of alternatives to conventional package travel and hotel stays, such as camping, couch surfing, AirBnB, staying at homes of friends and relatives, or traveling in recreational vehicles, to name just a few. Food waste is created in these tourist households, too, but with very little research carried into this topic to date, it is difficult to come up with strategies to reduce food waste from these sources.
“We need models that describe how food waste is created in tourist households, and how that possibly changes over time. Moreover, we need to identify platforms and intersections where food waste can be addressed, for example through social media. In the end, it all boils down to sustainable tourism and the circular economy,” said Juho Pesonen from the University of Eastern Finland.
Food waste is a major issue worldwide and a prominent type of hospitality waste. According to the researchers, roughly 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or goes to waste, which is equivalent to one third or even up to one half of all food intended for human consumption.
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